You can always count on the keen folks at Gizmodo to highlight amazing stories in our history, supported by gorgeous illustrations from our country’s coolest repository, the Smithsonian.
This portfolio of hand-tinted lithographs purports to illustrate the “discovery of life on the moon.” In 1836, Richard E. Locke, writing for the New York Sun, claimed that the noted British astronomer Sir John Herschel had discovered life on the moon. Flora and fauna included bat-men, moon maidens (with luna-moth wings), moon bison, and other extravagant life forms. Locke proposed an expedition to the moon using a ship supported by hydrogen balloons.
Click here to view the Leopoldo Galluzzo, Altre scoverte fatte nella luna dal Sigr. Herschel , 1836 portfolio from the The Smithsonian Institute Image Collection’s Galaxy of Images!
If this topic interests you, I can highly recommend two non-fiction titles that intertwine beautifully with this amazing part of history:
The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes takes place in Britain and Europe and recounts the gradual evolution of scientific and astronomical beliefs and practices during the Romantic era.
The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York by Matthew Goodman is an in-depth account of the New York Sun hoax, the naivete of the American idea of Astronomy and space studies AND of the state of journalistic integrity/ sensationalism in New York in the mid-1800s.